Seat speaks


The bloke who writes this has spent the weekend doing other stuff so he’s asked me to do a quick update on his behalf.

You might remember me.    I spent four months traveling from my home in Tiaro, Queensland to some bloody cold place with a pom who’s restoring an old bike.     I had many great adventures on my way including spending some time in a Russian prison and trying to find buried spitfires in Malaysia.    Now I’m here and I’ve been sitting on a shelf in a shed for ages.  Strewth but it’s cold.    I did think about trying to get a job in a bar somewhere whilst I’m waiting to be used but frankly the place is full of rugger fans and it can be a bit scary when you’re only 60cm long.   Oh, I’ve been ordered not to mention the cricket.  I’ll just say, Ha.

Before I go on, I need to tell you to go and read Tom’s blog.   Tom is based back home down under, believe it or not he’s just round the corner from where I came from (I think) and he’s also restoring a CT125 (along with about a million other bikes).   You can find his blog by clicking here.  Tom has a whole bunch of bits in his shed that the bloke here would love to get his hands on given half the chance.

I’ve been telling Robby that he needs to tidy up the shed.  Honestly it is such a mess.  There’s oil all over the floor and there’s not room to swing a cat, not even that mangy three legged  thing that creeps in every now and  then.  I “borrowed” his phone to take a snap of his “nice and tidy” workbench.   I ask you.


Does that look like any sort of place to rebuild an engine?    I think he’s a bit worried that he won’t be able to tell the bits of XL engine from the bits of CT engine that he’s got lying around the place in little plastic bags.   That will teach him to label things properly.

He’s been trying to clean up the engine casings before  rebuilding them.   I keep saying “Mate, you want to strip that gearbox down and get all those bits of metal out of it before you try cleaning the outside” but he’s more keen on making the bloody thing shiny than he is on making sure that the inside is sound.     There’s a couple of bearings in there that he should be changing as well but I don’t think he’s going to bother.    Remember it was me who told you about them when it all goes wrong in a few months time.

Speaking of going wrong.   He’s been driving around with some of the electrics for the bike in his car for the last week.    Lord knows why.    I reckon he thinks that new bloody car is going to fix them for him.    I know that car is a bit fancy but I don’t reckon it can handle a soldering iron.   I tell you, he thinks that the bike is going to be up and running and on the road in time for spring.    Ask him which year though.    That’s a different story.

I better go.  It”s getting dark and it’s a tricky trip back to the shed for me.   I did have a nice cozy spot in a bedroom but for some reason I wasn’t allowed to stay there.   The hospitality here isn’t really what I expected it to be at all.   Not like that nice yurt I stayed at in Tibet.

Take care folks.   I’ll make sure that normal service is resumed soon.

Like a rolling stone

The (non beating) heart of Little Project has gone away to be treated by Dave at D & M Engineering in Newark to be tinkered with.   I have to say that Dave has been incredibly helpful and communicative on what was needed and might also need doing so as well as sending them the crank I also posted the cylinder head and the barrel.  We are going to have…

  • A crank rebuild with a new conrod and bearings plus the crank will be sand blasted to get rid of all of the bits of rust (and bits of hacksawed conrod that had fallen into it).
  • A rebore of the barrel to 1.25 o/s with shiny new pistons and rings to match.
  • New inlet and exhaust valves and a new exhaust valve guide.
  • The valve seats are going to be  re-cut.
  • The cylinder head and barrel are then going to blasted such that they look like new.

As I said, the chaps at D & M have been incredibly helpful so far and if you do need some work doing on the nether regions of your engine I can’t recommend them highly enough.   They specialise in classic racing Honda motorcycles, so it may be that the Little Project engines come back ready to break the 50mph barrier.

Whilst the bits are away I decided to concentrate on cleaning up the rest of the engine.   There’s a bit that covers the top of the cylinder head, let’s call it the cylinder head cover for convenience.    Even allowing for the bike having been sitting outside for a decade it was in a bad state.     It has its own little community of life-forms living on it.    There was almost a miniature lawn growing on one part of it.   It looked like this.


I know that it doesn’t look it in that photograph, but this bit of metal has lots of nooks and crannies in it.   You would never describe it as being easy to clean.   You know that stuff that people (women mostly, I think) put on their face to make the cheeks look less/more rosy?  I think it’s called foundation.    Now imagine trying to put an even layer of that stuff on Keith Richards face.

Have you imagined?   Getting into the dells and valleys of the cylinder head cover is far more difficult than that.    You’ll remember the cleaning process for al-you-min-ium parts, (I can’t put them in the rust removal tank as it has started bubbling a bit and I think it might eat them), the process is 240 wet and dry followed by 600 wet and dry followed by a severe thrashing with wire wool bathed in Solvol Autosol and finished with a gentle buffing with fresh baby seal skin (or a cherished tee shirt if the skin is not readily to hand).

My fingers are far too manly (that’s another way of describing them as plump) to access some of the deep little curves that I’ve found.    I suggested to several other (smaller) members of the family what fun it would be to spend the day cleaning bits of a 30 year old farm bike but there didn’t seem to be a lot of enthusiasm for this, I can only assume there was no interest because it is a bit cold as what could be more fun than sitting in a freezing shed dipping your hand into cold water and then getting bloodied knuckles when you bash them against a sticky uppy bit.

Never daunted I fashioned a crude “rubbing stick” out of bits of doweling and set about some polishing.   It took quite a bit of polishing and I don’t think I’m going to get it any better than this.


Buoyed with success I bounded up to the house to show how exciting it can be polishing stuff.   Sadly everyone had gone out so this is the first chance for anyone to say “Goodness, that’s shiny”.

Everyone had gone out.   It dawned on me.   I didn’t need to be cold to do the next bit!    I’d two hours before the house refilled.   If anybody asks you if you know why there are oily fingerprints on the kitchen door and there seems to be splashes of all sorts of muck around the sink, don’t mention this picture.


There is still a fair amount to do on this one, but in the brief time I had in the warm it now looks like this…


I know that’s a bit soft focus and carefully lit (I had to pose it such that you can’t see the unclean bits) but even so!   Even if the engine never runs again it is going to be gorgeously clean.

I’m hoping that some time next week the crank comes back.   If it doesn’t then I’ve a clutch to play with.   It is very manky and the postman has been put on alert for a delivery of clutch plates and springs.

Thank you for taking the time to read this and I do hope you have an enjoyable week.   I’m off to have a large glass of gin.

Ode to Ozymandias?

Percy Bysshe Shelley was by all accounts a bit of a lad.   He had a habit of developing an infatuation with somebody and running off with them.   His second wife penned “Frankenstein” after a session of telling ghost stories with a bunch of other poets whilst in Switzerland.  This here is the Little Project tribute to PBS (and that’s not the American television thingy).

I met a bike from an ancient time
who on two flat and airless wheels
Stood in a garden, decaying beyond repair
Half rusted, a battered frame of red
and seatless yet with wiring down
Tell of the builder well those bolts are fast
which yet survive hammered to the very end
The brake thing that mocked and the hand that bled
And in the shed these words appear:
“My name is Little Project, thing of things:
Look on my engine, Robby and despair!”
Nothing beside remains round the crankcase
Of that colossal wreck, rounded, rusted and seized,
The sound of engines running seems far away.

“Little Project,  thing of things” has been playing around my head all day and I’d 5 minutes before the dinner was cooked.

Sorry if I’ve made your ears bleed.

On the pull

You’d never have thought it.     I need a new tub of Swarfega.   I was under the impression (I don’t know why, I just assumed) that Swarfega lasted forever.   I just imagined that the tub would magically fill up again once empty but that does not appear to have happened.   This meant that after a most satisfying tinkering session I had no official method of cleaning my hands.     I’ve scooped up  some of the sludge from the bottom of the rust removal bath and used that instead.   It has remarkable cleansing properties but I don’t think it will be winning any awards as a moisturiser.   My hands are more Stirling Moss than Kate Moss as I type today.    It may be that my fingernails will also glow in the dark but hey! I’m clean!

This doesn’t happen very often, but in my last post I said exactly what I planned to do this weekend and that is exactly what I have done.   Right down to needing a tool that is only available in leap years when there is a full moon on the spring solstice.  I shall tell you about it…

Because I’m a bit flash with my cash I purchased not one but three 1/2 inch extensions (mostly because they were sold in sets of three, but keep that to yourself) and scurried to the shed to remove the rotor lock nut and thus (I would imagine) have an unlocked rotor and removable oil pump.

Of course the rotor turns in tune with the rest of the engine so there was no way to get any purchase on it, everything turned in time with my tugging.    I worked out that by sticking the handle of the hammer (it is rubber coated) down into the crank it locked up the engine and with a fair bit of moaning and groaning (from me, not the rotor lock nut or the hammer handle) the lock nut came loose, I stumbled backwards and planted the seat of my (not even slightly pristine) overalls in the grass collector of the (red, REL3020, mostly) lawnmower and with a somewhat surprised look the oil pump was captured and secured in a plastic bag (along with the new tool,  I’ve a feeling the 10mm fairy might have her eyes on it).

Ha.   I thought as I flipped over to the next page of the manual.   “Attempting to remove the alternator casing without using a puller will result in irrevocable engine damage” it said.

I didn’t want to point out to the manual that sawing through the conrod may also constitute irrevocable engine damage so I rummaged through the toolbox for my puller.   A puller is like a three legged spider with a threaded piece of metal in the middle.   You wrap the legs of the puller around the item that you need to pull and place the end of the threaded bit against a bit that is not going to be pulled.  Then you tighten up the threaded bit and the thing that you want to get pulled off gets pulled off.

Hells teeth.  My puller has legs too fat to fit in the gap between the alternator.

I decided to hit the crank cases with a hammer.  Just a rubber one, it’s not like it is a big and destructive hammer, I’ve just found that hitting things with a hammer occasionally makes me feel better.

The cranks started to separate.   This probably isn’t the professional way to do these things but I stuck some bits of wood in the gaps between the cranks and applied some heave-ho.  There was a clank (or two, or several) and the crank cases came apart.

The clank was bits of the gearbox falling to the shed floor.

I’ve gathered up all of the bits of gearbox and have (probably) put them back together in the correct fashion.  Whatever, there is one crankcase that now looks like this.

Gear box

The other side still had the crankshaft with the alternator attached to it.

Because I am aware that sometimes things are beyond me.   I put the crank case with the alternator jammed on to it into a plastic bag and wandered down to the local motorbike shop.   “Can you get that off there?  My puller is too fat” I said and a man whisked it away and brought it back in two pieces.   “No charge” said he, “just come back when you need to buy something”.

So CBS Whitton shall be going into the “Heroes and Villains” section of the blog (as heroes, obviously).   They don’t have a website but they are in Kneller Road, Whitton, TW2 7DX and if you need to buy anything scooter or bike related then you should visit them, even if you are in California.

So we’ve two crank cases and a crank.

 Left crank case Crank

Admittedly the crank is looking sad, but I’ve heard rumours of a man called Mike.  He mends Honda crankshafts.  I will be tracking him down and making eyes at him.  Until then I’m going to be cleaning crank cases until they are more buffed than the fireman’s calendar.

Have a good week everyone.   Next weekend in the UK is Remembrance Sunday.   Come and join my entire extended family and me at Horseguards Parade (where the beach volleyball was during the Olympics last year) at 11am (or so).  You can’t miss us, there will be about 20 of us, there won’t be a Honda CT125 in sight but one of us will have glowing fingernails, wrinkly hands and a determined look in his eyes.